Stephen Foster & Co.: Lyrics of America's First Great Popular Songs (Hardcover)

Lyrics of America's First Great Popular Songs

By Stephen Foster, Ken Emerson (Editor)

Library of America, 9781598530704, 182pp.

Publication Date: April 15, 2010



Stephen Foster (1826-1864) is the trunk of the tree of American song. His blackface minstrel songs, including "Oh Susanna," "Old Folks at Home" ("Way down upon the Swanee River..."), and "My Old Kentucky Home," and his parlor ballads, such as "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and "Beautiful Dreamer," have inspired composers, songwriters, and performers from Charles Ives and George Gershwin to Ray Charles and James Taylor. Foster devoted as much care and craft to his lyrics as he did to his timeless melodies. In this comprehensive new selection, acclaimed music historian Ken Emerson introduces and annotates the lyrics to more than 30 of Foster's best and best-known songs. These masterpieces by America's first full-time professional songwriter have been so deeply absorbed into our culture that they are often assumed to be folk music. Alongside are 49 other 19th-century American popular songs that influenced Foster or that he in turn inspired, from "Home Sweet Home " in the 1820s to "Western Home" (the original "Home on the Range") in the 1870s.
"With his usual taste and insight, Ken Emerson has given us a much-needed collection of the lyrics of Stephen Foster and the other trailblazing talents who first defined American popular songwriting." -Elijah Wald, author of "How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll"

About the Author

Stephen Foster is a MacMillan PEN shortlisted story writer and novelist, and the author of several books of nonfiction including "Walking Ollie" and "Fetching Dylan," both of which appeared on the "London Sunday Times" bestseller list. He lives in Norwich, England, with his partner and fellow writer Trezza Azzopardi, and their lurcher puppy Dylan.

Coverage from NPR